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The Cardassians are an extraterrestrial species in the Star Trek science fiction franchise. First introduced in the 1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Wounded", the species originating on the fictional Alpha Quadrant planet Cardassia Prime. Cardassians were the dominant species in an interplanetary empire known as the Cardassian Union, ruling over other species, including the Bajorans, during the 24th century. The Cardassians later played a key role in the storyline of the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as allies of the Dominion in the Dominion War. Several Cardassian characters, including Elim Garak and Gul Dukat, are prominently featured.

The Cardassians were developed by the writers to provide an enemy race with whom the protagonists could interact, unlike the Borg, where such drama is difficult due to their lack of personality and individualism.



Cardassians are humanoid in form, but have distinctive ridged arches connecting their shoulders to the tops of their necks. They also have ridges on either side of their foreheads, ridges surrounding their eyes, and protrusions on their chins and below their noses. Moreover, they display spoon-shaped features starting in the centers of their foreheads and running down the lengths of their noses. This has earned them the derogatory name of "spoonheads." The spoon shape also appears on their chest. The non-canon "Star Trek: DS9-Millennium" novel trilogy revealed the spoon feature served as a type of umbilical membrane before birth. Star Trek canon has revealed that ancient humanoids genetically influenced the evolution of the Cardassians, Klingons, Romulans, and Humans, but each race still evolved from earlier life forms (apes for humans, crustaceans for Klingons, etc.) (cf. The Chase).

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